Photos: Seattle shows support for Israel at huge rally
While Israel is in the midst of defending herself against a vicious terror war, over 600 supporters of the Jewish state gathered in Seattle’s Pioneer square today to express their solidarity.
As hostilities escalated between Israel and the Hamas terror organization, Rob Jacobs, NW coordinator for StandWithUs felt compelled to provide Israel supporters with an opportunity to display their solidarity with the Jewish state.
“Every other major U.S. city had already held at least one solidarity rally” said Jacobs “Some had already had two. Seattle still hadn’t had a rally and no community gathering except in the Orthodox community.” Jacobs expressed special sensitivity to the large Israeli community here in the Northwest. “People need to feel connected. They need to see that others are with them in supporting Israel. And the large Israeli community here hadn’t seen anyone from the Jewish community showing obvious public support for Israel. So the morning that we learned Israel’s ground campaign had started, I applied for a rally permit and notified every synagogue and every Jewish organization that we’d love to put on a solidarity rally with them on July 20.”
Noted Jacobs “The Orthodox community and the Israeli community immediately responded positively. “We are gratified that we had the incredible turnout we did” added Jacobs ” the police estimated between 600 and 650 – on a cold, damp, Sunday when I-90 was closed and traffic was terrible. We thank all of those who attended for showing Seattle’s tremendous support for Israel.”
The large rally was organized in less than 48 hours, garnering support from over a dozen Seattle area community organizations.
Noticeably absent from the list of sponsors was the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the umbrella organization of Seattle’s Jewish community. Citing issues of logistics, venue and timing, the Federation declined to add their name to the list of sponsoring organizations. Additionally, despite being extended invitations to participate, no synagogogue outside of the Orthodox or Sephardic community joined as co-sponsors. Conservative Congregation Herzl Ner Tamid’s name was initially on the list of sponsors but inexplicably pulled their name prior to the event.
Keith Dvorchik, President and CEO of the Jewish Federation told The Mike Report that “while we are very supportive of Israel, the IDF, and the Israelis, the timing of the rally really caused the problem for us.” Dvorchik informed The Mike Report that a separate event to show communal support for Israel, likely indoors, will be planned in the coming days. Said Dvorchik “we are working with other community agencies who have interest in doing something in support of Israel but didn’t feel the rally was the right venue for them.” The Federation did notify the community of today’s rally via email.
Jacobs spoke to the gathering of his hope for a true peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. Jacobs noted that Israel is fighting to free both Jews and Arabs alike from the vicious grip of extremist groups like Hamas. Also addressing the rally were Rabbi Ben Hassan of Sephardic Bikur Holim Congregation who offered a prayer for peace and safety, Robert Amkraut, Regional Board Chair of StandWithUs and Nevet Basker of Pro-Israel group Broader View.
At the rally with her husband and three teenage children was Rachel Sassoon, “I came to show the entire world that we stand with Israel” said Sassoon. “Israel is justified in defending their country from Hamas , tragically it is the Palestinian people who are most persecuted by Hamas.” Sassoon shared with The Mike Report how moved she was to have met a non-Jewish couple who traveled all the way from Oregon to be at this event. “They told me that they felt their heart was with Israel and they felt their place was here today to support Israel, we hugged, it was a special moment”.
Zev Behar, a college Sophomore stood with a group of college students vigorously waving Israeli flags at the edge of the crowd. “We want our brothers and sisters in Israel to know that we stand beside them without reservation” said Behar.
In attendance was a diverse group from across the spectrum of the Jewish community as well as many non-Jewish supporters of Israel. Posters declaring “Support Peace, Stop Terror” and “We Stand with Israel” bobbed above the throng as Hebrew songs of unity and peace were sung.
The program concluded with the a moment of silence for the Israel Defense Force soldiers who tragically lost their lives in Operation Defensive Edge followed by the Star Spangled Banner and Hatikva.
Across from the Pro-Israel rally a small group of about 45 Hamas supporters held signs comparing Jews to Nazis, accusing Israel of war crimes and baby killing. The Seattle Police Department did a superb job standing between the hostile counter protesters and those there to support Israel. After the rally, a spokesman for the anti-Israel protesters harangued a small group of teens, who seemed more amused than alarmed by the outburst (see a few anti-Israel pics and video below).
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